Michigan Cruises Past Illinois in Big Ten Tourney Opener
Courtney Boylan

March 1, 2012

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Site: Indianapolis, Ind. (Bankers Life Fieldhouse)
Event: Big Ten Tournament (First Round)
Score: Michigan 68, Illinois 53
Records: U-M (20-10), Illinois (11-19)
Next U-M Event: Friday, March 2 -- vs. Ohio State - Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinals (Indianapolis, Ind.), 11:30 a.m.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- The University of Michigan women's basketball team shot 47.9 for the game to pull out a 68-53 win over Illinois to open play at the 2012 Big Ten Tournament on Thursday (March 1) at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The win is the Wolverines' second over the Illini this season and avenges their first-round loss to Illinois in the 2011 conference tournament opener.

Courtney Boylan (Chaska, Minn./Chaska) scored 17 points, connecting 6-of-8 from the field to lead U-M in scoring. Kate Thompson (Plymouth, Minn./ Wayzata) connected 5-of-8, including 3-of-4 from behind the arc, to score 13 points off the bench. Rachel Sheffer (Watervliet, Mich./Watervliet) chipped in 12 points and Jenny Ryan Saginaw, Mich./Nouvel Catholic Central) pulled in a team-high six rebounds to go with eight points. Ryan and Sheffer both finished with three steals.

Behind a team effort with everyone scoring that touched the floor, Michigan shot 42.3 in the first half and 54.5 in the second percent, and 53.8 percent from three-point range overall. Defensively, Michigan forced 20 turnovers, picking up 27 points from Illinois' miscues while scoring 28 points in the paint.

The Wolverines led the entire game, and at halftime, had held Illinois to 20 percent shooting and five field goals. With the score in favor of U-M, 12-10, the Wolverines used a 15-1 run to extend the advantage to 27-11 (3:20). The Maize and Blue forced five turnovers and held Illinois to one free throw during the run. Thompson added five points during the stretch, scoring off a steal and nailing a three-pointer with 3:55 on the clock. For the first half, U-M scored 12 points from six of Illinois' turnovers to hold a 29-16 lead at the break.

Within the first five minutes of the second half, Illinois closed the gap, outscoring Michigan, 12-7. The Wolverines held a 36-28 margin but pushed their advantage to double figures. Thompson nailed one from long range and Sheffer connected after a steal to give U-M a 41-28 lead.

Michigan held at least a 10-point lead for the remainder of the game. With the score 52-39 seconds below the eight-minute mark, Sheffer hit a three, with Ryan and Boylan connecting shots on the drive to fuel an 8-1 run. Michigan boosted its advantage to the largest lead of the game, 60-41, with five minutes left. Down the stretch, Boylan hit four free throws and Ryan tacked on a pair to seal the win.

Next, Michigan will face Ohio State tomorrow (Friday, March 2) in the quarterfinals at 11:30 a.m. inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind. Big Ten Network will televise the contest.

Contact: Zena Lewis (734) 763-4423

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